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Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
February 28, 2024 ·  4 min read

Combining These Habits Saw the Most Beneficial Effects on the Participants’ Dementia Risk, Study

As the global population ages, the prevalence of dementia is rapidly increasing. It is estimated that by 2050, there will be 153 million people living with dementia worldwide. Given the significant impact dementia has on individuals and their families, researchers are continually striving to identify factors that can mitigate the risk of cognitive decline. A recent study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s and Dementia sheds light on the potential benefits of combining healthy lifestyle habits in reducing the risk of dementia.

Study Background on Dementia Risk

The study, “Cardiometabolic diseases and early cognitive decline: Mitigated by integrated active lifestyle for brain health,” investigated the relationship between cardiometabolic diseases (CMDs) and cognitive decline. CMDs, such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity, are known risk factors for dementia. The research team explored whether specific lifestyle habits, including diet and exercise, could actually offset the heightened risk associated with CMDs. (1)

Methodology and Findings

The study utilized data from the PINDEC Project. This is a longitudinal study aimed at understanding the epidemiology of neurodegenerative diseases among Chinese adults aged 60 and older. The baseline and two-year follow-up data of 2,537 dementia-free elderly participants were analyzed.

Various lifestyle factors were evaluated and integrated to form a composite lifestyle score. These included physical exercise, social interaction, leisure activities, sleep quality, smoking, and alcohol consumption. Participants were divided into three groups based on their integrated lifestyle score categories: inactive, intermediate, and active.

The findings revealed that only 5.4% of participants adhered to all six healthy lifestyle habits, while 35.2% had five to six healthy components. The study observed a dose-response relationship between CMDs and the risk of early cognitive decline. Participants with only one CMD had a multi adjusted odds ratio (OR) of 1.223, while those with two or more CMDs had an OR of 1.832. This means that participants with say diabetes, hypertension, and obesity, were more likely to develop dementia than those with just one of those diseases.

Lifestyle Makes a Difference

The most significant revelation from the study, however, was the role of an active integrated lifestyle (aka a healthy lifestyle) in mitigating the risk of early cognitive decline. In individuals with an active lifestyle, the OR for early cognitive decline comparing those with two or more CMDs to CMD-free participants was 0.778. On the other hand, participants with an inactive lifestyle and two or more CMDs faced a nearly 3.4-fold increased risk compared to those without CMDs who had an intermediate to an active lifestyle. 

This is all a really scientific way of saying that those who followed the healthy lifestyle mentioned earlier and who didn’t have any CMDs had a drastically lower risk of developing dementia. Moreover, the more of the six lifestyle markers (physical exercise, social interaction, leisure activities, sleep quality, smoking, and alcohol consumption) that the participants followed, the lower their risk was. For example, someone who follows 5 or 6 has a lower risk of dementia than someone who follows just two.

Read More: This Common Daily Habit May be a Symptom of Dementia

What This All Means For Us

The study’s results underscore the importance of adopting and maintaining a combination of healthy lifestyle habits to reduce the risk of cognitive decline. The integrated active lifestyle, encompassing regular physical exercise, social interaction, engagement in leisure activities, quality sleep, and abstaining from smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, can counteract the detrimental effects of CMDs on cognitive health.

“A healthier lifestyle is associated with a significant reduced risk of early cognitive decline, but lifestyle changes can’t be piecemeal,” the study’s authors said in a statement. “The most beneficial protective effect is seen when clustering multiple lifestyle factors together, showing just how powerful exercise, socializing, sleeping, and healthy consumption habits are in combination.” (2)

These findings have important implications for healthcare professionals and policymakers. Raising awareness about the significance of brain-health-related healthy lifestyles among older adults is crucial. Implementing interventions that promote the adoption and maintenance of these habits can help curb the growing burden of dementia.

Read More: Can Coconut Oil Help With Dementia?

More Research Needed

While this study provides valuable insights, it has certain limitations. The research lacked detailed information on nutrition, which could also play a significant role in dementia risk. Further investigations should explore the interplay between lifestyle factors, including nutrition, to gain a comprehensive understanding of their combined effects on cognitive health.

The Bottom Line

The study’s findings emphasize the potential benefits of combining healthy lifestyle habits in reducing the risk of dementia. Adhering to an active, integrated lifestyle that encompasses various positive health behaviors can help offset the elevated risk associated with cardiometabolic diseases. As the global population continues to age, prioritizing and promoting the adoption of these habits becomes crucial in preserving cognitive health and improving the quality of life for older adults.

By incorporating regular physical activity, social engagement, leisure activities, quality sleep, and healthy habits, individuals can take proactive steps to protect their brain health and reduce the likelihood of dementia in later life. These findings highlight the importance of a holistic approach to healthcare and the potential for lifestyle interventions to have a significant impact on reducing dementia risk.

Read More: Dementia Nurse Wants Everyone to Know This About the Disease


  1. Cardiometabolic diseases and early cognitive decline: Mitigated by integrated active lifestyle for brain health.” Science Direct. Haowei Li, Shige Qi, Shengshu Wang, Shanshan Yang, Shaohua Liu, Shimin Chen, Xuehang Li, Rongrong Li , Junhan Yang, Huaihao Li, Yinghui Bao , Yueting Shi a , Zhihui Wang , Miao Liu and Yao He.
  2. Dementia Risk Lowered by Six Habits, Study Suggests.” Newsweek. Pandora Dewan. January 23, 2024.